Is it a bad idea to use alternative therapy instead of conventional treatment for Cancer?

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Generally speaking Yes, it is a very bad idea.

Patients using alternative therapy exclusively  such as mistletoe therapy, vitamin therapy quite often come to harm.

For example, a well known Chinese actress shunned conventional chemotherapy for her lymphoma. Instead, Ms Xu Ting – a previously fit and well 26 year old – opted for traditional Chinese medicine methods for her lymphoma.

She underwent alternative therapies such as cupping, acupuncture, back stretching and a method called gua sha. Unfortunately traditional treatments didn’t help and she died from a potentially curable cancer. (1-3).

The misconceptions are certainly NOT confined to East. One of the prominent examples in the West is the fate of Dutch actress Sylvia Millecam.

She refused conventional treatment for her Breast Cancer and instead tried a wide range of so called alternative treatments – such as faith healing, salt therapy and magnetic field therapy. She unfortunately died of a potentially curable cancer. (4-6).

In addition to these well known anecdotal evidence, Studies have shown that alternative therapies can affect survival. Utilization of alternative therapies for curable cancer without any conventional therapy was associated with greater risk of death. (7-11).

However convincing the material you read on social media and wider internet, do NOT abandon conventional tretments. Always ask professional opinion about various things you have read and if not satisfied, ask second or third opinion.


How else cancer patients use complementary/ alternative therapy?

Although scientifically not universally validated, complementary medicine may help some cancer patients to cope better with their symptoms. Many patients do use acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massage, aromotherapy and group art therapy to deal with physical and psychological symptoms and side effetcs from conventional treatments.

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Chinese actress




Dutch actress




Survival Risk

7. Cancer patients who use alternative medicine more than twice as likely to die.The Independent, August 15 2017

8. Cancer patients who rely on herbs, homeopathy or energy crystals over conventional treatment are two-and-a-half times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis.Mail Online, August 15 2017

9. Cancer patients who shun chemo for alternative therapies ‘are TWICE as likely to die’.The Sun, August 15 2017

10. Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP, Yu JB. Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival.Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Published online August 10 2017



Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.